AUGUST 20, 2016
ONE YEAR ON THE ROAD – HOORAY FOR US (champagne, confetti, applause)
When we pulled out of our driveway a year ago, we thought OK – we’ll try this for 3 to 6 months, and make a decision. Well, here we are one year later, and still loving it. I can’t say there haven’t been a few missteps along the way, but pretty much, everyday’s been a good day. Yes, the trailer gets a little smaller each day, but not so much that we would end this journey. We’ve seen so much, and made so many new friends. It’s been wonderful. We don’t miss our fairly large home, or all of the work that goes along with home ownership The only thing we miss is our children, extended family, and of course, Timmy, Daniel, and Matthew. They are surely what has us headed east. But before that happens, let’s continue the journey as it unfolds.
On the 20th, we pulled into Tim’s sister’s home in California. It was a delight to visit Patty. She has a new pet, a rescued German Shepherd. Patty just got her, so she was a little skittish. We had fun helping come up with a name for her. Emmy Lou? – for Emmy Lou Harris? Foxy, because she has a bushy tail like a fox? or Sweetie Pie, because that’s what she is – a sweetie pie. My Dad had German Shepherds while we were kids and growing up, and I’ve never met a more loving and sweet dog, and so, Sweetie Pie it is.
That night the three of us celebrated our one year on the road by drinking a bottle of champagne from Roederer Estate, that we picked up in California, way before our journey to Alaska. We shared good food, good conversation and laughs.
ROEDERER ESTATE TASTING ROOM
From Patty’s, we decided to head to Lake Tahoe, where neither of us had ever been. Tahoe is a beautiful lake. And lucky us, there was a sun shower.
There seems to be quite a bit to do, and several nice casinos. It was difficult to find a place to stay. One campground had spaces, but I’m sorry to say, we arrived just after 7pm, and they close at 7pm. I even spoke to the camp host, and told her we were exhausted. She was pleasant, but still would not permit us to stay, not even for a night. Now it’s dark, and we don’t have a place to stay. I know – WALMART.
We’ve never stayed n a Walmart parking lot before, although many do. It’s called “Boondocking”, and it’s free. We had a good night’s rest, surrounded by other RVs. And the best part? There is no check-out time. I guess we are officially RVers ! Cute story – when we visited my cousin Cheryl in Colorado Springs, she said that there was a Walmart close by. However, due to the fact that so many RVs stayed for way too long, they no longer allow overnight “guests”. What a hoot!
After Lake Tahoe, we decided to drive “The Lonliest Road in America”, across Nevada.
It is a much longer route to Las Vegas, but the dots on the map that straddle Route 50 announce that it is scenic. It truly is lonely and desolate, but beautiful with it’s ever changing topography of rolling mountains and broad, flat valleys. It’s silent and peaceful, and incredibly expansive. Travelers are rare and the few settlements are fifty or more miles apart. For hundreds of miles, hours and hours, you feel alone with nature.
The first night was spent in the tiny town of Austin, NV. This is the entire town.
We found a place for the night called Pony Express RV Park. Although they had full hook-ups for us, that’s where the amenities ended. In fact, you put your money in the provided envelope, and slipped it into the slot in a metal box. I want to show you a picture of the picnic table.
The continued long but very scenic drive took us to Ely, Nevada ( pronounced Eeelee). There we found the Prospector Hotel And Gambling Hall (and RV Park) (see review in Campgrounds). We weren’t sure what we would find, but, lo and behold, it was wonderful. An immaculate little hotel, with a Mexican restaurant, 100 slot machines, and 22 full service sites. And, access to their pool, fitness room, and laundry. Not bad for $22 per night.
Ely is a gateway to Great Basin National Park. Again, stunning. This park is located in east-central Nevada, near the Utah border. It was established in 1986. The park gets its name from, naturally, the Great Basin, the dry and mountainous region between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains. The park protects 77,180 acres, but the Great Basin itself has a diameter of 500 miles. The summer climate is delightful. We’d even consider settling here –What’s that? Winters reach 40 degrees below zero?! I think we better think this out again.
This National Park is notable for its groves of ancient bristlecone pines, the oldest known non-clonal organisms; and for the Lehman Caves, proclaimed a National Monument by President Warren G. Harding on January 24, 1922.
Bristlecone pines are remarkable for their great age and their ability to survive adverse growing conditions. In fact, it seems one secret to their longevity is the harsh environment in which most bristlecone pines grow. The trees in Great Basin grow in isolated groves just below the treeline. Conditions are harsh, with cold temperatures, a short growing season, and high winds. Bristlecone pines in these high-elevation environments grow very slowly, and in some years don’t even add a ring of growth. This slow growth makes their wood very dense and resistant to insects, fungi, rot, and erosion. ” In the summer of 1964, a geographer by the name of Donald R. Currey was doing research on ice age glaciology. He was granted permission from the United States Forest Service to take core samples from numerous bristlecone pines growing beneath Wheeler Peak to try and age the glacial features these ancient trees grow on. Currey was studying the variations in width of the rings of bristlecone pine trees, which were believed to be over 4,000 years old, to determine patterns of good and bad growing seasons in the past. Due to their old age, these trees act as climatic vaults, storing thousands of years of weather data within their rings. This method of research is valuable to the study of climate change.” – NPS
The NPS Visitors Center displays a cross section of a tree that’s been on earth for over 4,000 years. Pins along the rings mark a timeline of historical events. This tree was a sapling as the pyramids of Egypt were under construction. That is something to truly marvel at!!!
There are tours through the Lehman Caves. I was all for doing the caves, but Tim is a bit claustrophobic. He’s not wild about any small spaces, elevators, or even being stuck in traffic. He quit wrestling in school because he couldn’t stand it when he was on the bottom, with someone holding him down. But guess what? Talk about conquering your fears! Here’s a pic of my guy inside the cave, with a lantern no less.
The tiny towns we passed on our way to Great Basin were not without their oddities. Here in Ely we have Antler Arch. Elk antlers interweave to form a magnificent square entry arch for a ranch where they make specialty lighting and furniture using antlers. There are Antler chandeliers on both ends of the arch.
Note: During December, the antlers of mule and white-tail deer, moose and stag caribou fall to the ground, making it common to see animals with just a single antler. Elk retain their antlers throughout the winter, only shedding them with the onset of spring.
But my personal roadside oddity thus far has got to be this one.
I haven’t been able to find a reference for it anywhere. Is it “folk art”? A memorial to a loved one? or just a representation of eternal rest. Maybe we’ll never know, but I love it.
From Ely, we press on to Caliente, NV. What a great name, for such a tiny town. This is our last stop before Las Vegas. Time to do chores like laundry and general cleaning. We only want to have fun when we arrive. I hope you’re ready for “Sin City”. We sure are…see you there…